Pearland opens season with 21-3 win over The Woodlands

PEARLAND — The Pearland Oilers opened the 2020 football season with a strong outing against area power The Woodlands with a 21-3 non-district victory.

The Woodlands has always had an outstanding athletic program as the Highlanders were in the 2016 state football championship game. They fell to Austin Lake Travis 41-13.

Head coach Ricky Tullos knew that this would be a good test to begin the season for the Oilers.

“This week, (practice time) was minimal, because of the storm that hit us, so the adversity was there, but our kids adapted, and really did a great job Wednesday of staying focused, and working to get better,” Pearland coach Ricky Tullos said.

“And they came out (Friday) and executed.”

The Woodlands took the opening kickoff down the field on a 13-play drive to the Pearland 4-yard line. But two penalties moved the ball back to the Oiler 18 where the Highlanders were forced to attempt a 35-yard field goal on fourth down. The kick was good giving The Woodlands a 3-0 lead with 6:19 left in the opening period.

Little did the Highlanders know that they wouldn't be able to put any more points on the scoreboard for the rest of the game.

After both teams traded punts, Pearland started their second drive at their own 20 at the close of the first quarter.

The Oilers would score on a 6-yard pass from Jake Sock to William Foster with 10:23 left in the second period. The drive was sparked by a Sock to Isaac Sanchez pass covering 29 yards and a 22-yard run by Darius Hale to the Highlanders 11. Caleb Mendez booted the extra point for a 7-3 Pearland lead that stood at halftime.

Following Pearland's touchdown, the Highlanders ate up most of the second quarter with a 19-play 73-yard drive that ended when The Woodlands fumbled at the 2-yard line. The ball went through the end zone for a touchback at the Pearland 20. The Oilers ran out the final :52 seconds of the first half.

The second half belonged to the aggressive Pearland defense as they were able to shut down any long, sustained drives.

The Oilers scored twice in each quarter as Hale scored on a 13-yard run with 10:04 left in the third period. Mendez hit the PAT for a 14-3 advantage.

Pearland's last score came on a sensational 98-yard scoring jaunt by Dominic Serna. The run tied the PHS longest run from scrimmage held by Dustin Garrison who scored on a 98-yard run against La Porte in 2010 -- the year the Oilers won the 2010 5A Div. I state championship.

Mendez was once again true with the PAT and the final score was posted 21-3 with 11:46 left in the fourth quarter.

Serna's run was set up by an interception by Deveon Moses at the Pearland 2-yard line.

Pearland also got interceptions by DB Kelekolio Linton and LB Baylor Johnson to thwart The Woodlands offense in the second half.

“Our defense flew around,” Tullos said. “They did a great job and gave a lot of effort. And we made mistakes. That’s part of the first game but offensively, defensively and on special teams, the effort was there.

“That’s a really good team, with a really good offense, we just played, so I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.”

Serna led Pearland with 121 yards and a TD on seven carries. Hale added 87 yards and a score on 12 rushes, and Sock finished 4-of-9 for 86 yards with a touchdown pass, and the Oilers finished with 308 yards and 12 first downs.

The Oilers (1-0) will host Spring Branch Memorial (1-0) on Friday, October 2 at 7:00 p.m. at The Rig.